EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 30, 2013

Fire lieutenant back on job after DWI arrest

METHUEN — After spending one week on paid administrative leave, fire Lt. James Garrity is back on the job following his St. Patrick’s Day arrest for drunken driving and marijuana possession in Plaistow, N.H.

Garrity, 48, of 96 Merrill St., Haverhill, returned to work today at the Central Fire Station, though Mayor Stephen Zanni said he won’t be allowed to drive Fire Department vehicles.

“I’m going to bring him back to work,” said Zanni. “He’ll be back at the firehouse. He can work from there.”

Garrity was placed on paid administrative leave for one week beginning last weekend. Zanni said he could face further discipline after his April 15 appearance in Plaistow District Court. Zanni said the city will take “appropriate action” after his arraignment.

Plaistow police stopped Garrity for speeding at 10:48 p.m. on March 17 at the intersection of Route 125 and East Road. He was charged with driving while intoxicated (second offense) and possession of a controlled drug, after an inventory search of his vehicle turned up a “small amount” of marijuana on the passenger-side floor, according to deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones.

Zanni said a city-ordered drug test following Garrity’s arrest turned up no signs of drugs in his system.

Zanni said earlier this week that the city is still waiting to receive Garrity’s arrest report from the Plaistow Police Department. Jones would not provide The Eagle-Tribune with a copy of the report, stating it cannot be made public while the case is still pending.

Jones said Garrity was driving alone and heading southbound on Route 125 when he was pulled over by Officer Sonya Robicheau. Jones said Robicheau noticed Garrity had trouble answering her questions and asked him to exit the vehicle.

Jones said Garrity proceeded to fail a number of field sobriety tests and was arrested. He was released later that night on $1,000 bail.

Garrity, who is known for singing the national anthem at Methuen civic events, was promoted from firefighter to acting lieutenant on Sept. 23, 2012.

His annual pay was boosted as a result from $54,687 to $61,320. Garrity was named permanent lieutenant on Feb. 4.

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